I’ve read a few books about Stoicism recently and found them useful in helping me respond more positively to tricky situations. The essence of stoicism is seeing life’s difficulties as things to make you stronger, to think less about yourself and more about the greater good and to live for the day rather than the future.
I moved to Australia 7 months ago because I have always wanted to live abroad for a bit and fancied a change (and something more chilled out) than London. In my head I’m thinking for a year or two but who knows. My mum has taken it very personally and flipped between getting angry with me and being quite nasty, ignoring me completely and occasionally supporting me. She reacted like this when I was leaving (November last year) and since I have been away. I am home at the moment for a few weeks as my brother got married last weekend (so much fun, possibly the best day of my life not sure about his!) and she is still treating me like this. We have probably been a bit too close and more like friends over the years and normally I feel bad and sorry for her as she has had her struggles (insomnia, an illness made her bed ridden and suicidal a few years ago which is is over now but seems to be ill a lot of the time) and I can see now has quite a depressive/manic personality, but I am also feeling a lot of anger for the first time. As she is so mentally sensitive I know voicing it directly isn’t the answer. I get very anxious (which maybe relates to growing up with my mum being on edge all the time) and I can see now that her behaviour makes me anxious and knocks me back. Part of me wants to point the finger and say she is being cruel and unfair etc as all I am trying to do is live my life, butttttt, I know that she isn’t in a good place and can’t see past how things around her affect her, so I am working on being stoic about it.
- Seeing this as a challenge which I can overcome by being present and supportive in her company but also taking a bit of a step back and making sure I look after myself first. I am going to stay in touch with her, but her friends are going to step in and support her mental struggles as I can’t be that person.
- It has be nice to get the support of other parents who have said I have done nothing wrong in moving away, they are proud of what I am doing and that her behaviour isn’t normal. A big part of me always thinks I am over reacting and this is all in my head so hearing them confirm that her behaviour isn’t normal helps me accept it for what it is as well and be kind to myself rather than critical or feel guilty.
- I am going to intentionally try and let go of this anger that has developed and appreciate that it is only because she loves me and doesn’t know how to express it.
- Whilst our relationship has changed, it will probably be a healthier one in the future and has allowed for me to have a better relationship with my Dad and brother.
- I know I can be quite in my head and self focussed like my mum so being aware of that will hopefully help me pause before reacting to situations in my own life and know that any unhelpful personality traits I see in myself aren’t me and I can work on letting go of them.
- I’m embarrassed to say that there is part of me which feels sorry for myself and the younger me growing up now, but that is my ego. I have a mother who loved and loves me very much. Maybe I have inherited some of her sensitivity but I am also very compassionate and able to help other friends going through similar battles because of it all. Whilst it has been a bit of a revelation for me and changed how I look back on things, everyone has had struggles and we can choose whether to let them define us or use them to help make us stronger and more helpful to other people.
It feels good to get this out there and consolidate my thoughts, but enough thinking about me for now. I am going to go for a nice walk in the sunshine with a coffee and find out what else is going on in world on my sky news podcast 🙂
Books I read and highly recommend on stoicism (/by read I mean listened to on Audible on my way to work…)
Ryan Holiday The Obstacle is the Way
Ryan Holiday Ego is the Enemy